Almost all councils in the Hunter region – one of NSW’s largest coal-producing areas – have now made the commitment to move away from coal and gas and towards a cleaner future powered by renewables.

Lake Macquarie City, Port Stephens and Cessnock City have today become the latest members of the Cities Power Partnership (CPP), a free national program to accelerate pollution reduction and clean energy created by the Climate Council.

The three councils now join MidCoast Council, Upper Hunter Shire, Muswellbrook Shire and City of Newcastle in the CPP – now making it seven out of 10 councils having joined the CPP.

“Taking meaningful action on climate is very important to our community. We know we face a range of challenges in building a sustainable future, which is why we joined the CPP,” said Lake Macquarie Mayor, Councillor Kay Fraser.

“The program will help accelerate our newly adopted Environmental Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan that has a goal for council to become 100 per cent renewable and 80 per cent of our residents to use more renewables, more active transport and conserve water.

“So far, we’ve installed 1.38MW of solar panels across 27 council buildings, rolled out 5,600 LED streetlights and are encouraging renewable energy uptake in our community.”

Mayor of Port Stephens Ryan Palmer, said council and the community has benefitted from taking action on climate for many years.

To date, council has installed solar panels on 16 sites for a collective capacity of 250kW.

“From rolling our solar on council buildings to restoring beloved bushland, council has been working to cut emissions, save on energy bills and provide green spaces for the community to enjoy,” he said.

“The CPP will help advance our work in this space, including a Sustainability Action Plan that will set clear emission reduction and renewable energy targets to create a strong, clean local economy.”

For Cessnock Mayor Bob Pynsent, it’s a step in the right direction for council to join the CPP and reaffirms its commitment to positive action.

It installed a 20kW system at its depot back in 2013 and has earmarked a further $126,000 for this financial year for the installation of solar panels across its many council buildings.

“It recognises the importance of environmental improvements at all levels of government,” said Mr Pynsent.

“It also aligns with our recently adopted Climate Change Policy and will facilitate the sharing of knowledge with like-minded councils to reduce our emissions and build climate resilience.”

Councils taking part in the CPP pledge five actions to tackle climate change locally – from ramping up renewable energy through to planning sustainable transport systems.

The CPP’s acting director, Dr Portia Odell, welcomed the new members and commended them for their positive action on climate change.

“Right now, local governments have an opportunity to accelerate projects that will deliver local jobs quickly and tackle long-term challenges like climate change,” she said.

“It’s brilliant to see more regional councils sign up to the program to help deliver a safer climate and stronger economy for their communities.”

Nationally, the CPP program boasts 129 local government area members, covering more than 500 cities and towns.

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